Why is online piracy ethically different from theft? A vignette experiment

This study employs a vignette experiment to inquire, which features of online ?piracy? make it ethically discernible from a traditional theft. This question is pertinent since the social norm concerning traditional theft is starkly different from the evidence on ethical evaluation of online ?piracy?. We specifically distinguish between contextual features of theft, such as for example the physical loss of an item, breach of protection, availability of alternatives, emotional proximity to the victim of theft, etc. We find that some of these dimensions have more weight in ethical judgement, but there are no clear differences between online and traditional theft which could explain discrepancy in the frequency of commitment.